July 21, 2017, 4:59 am
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Hino truck rally team ends Dakar on a high note

DAKAR Rally 2017 Hino Team Sugawara won its 8th straight championship in the Under 10-liter Class, and upped its own record to 26 finishes since first entering the rally.

Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) raced in the trucks category of Dakar Rally that was hosted in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina from January 2 through January 14 making its first top 10 finish in five years since 2012. 

After the original Paris-Dakar Rally―starting in Paris and finishing in Dakar―was called off due to political instability in 2008, organizers relocated the event to South America in 2009 and renamed it Dakar Rally. Since then, the rally has been gradually transforming from an exploration-oriented one on the roadless roads of Africa into a high-speed rally where contestants vie for speed over rough terrain.

As Hino’s rivals, most of whom were based out of Europe, pushed forward by increasing the power of their trucks that ran on engines with displacements of over 10 liter, and drew lighter chassis and exotic materials as well as on their material might, by sending in huge contingents of staff and supplies, Hino has been steadfastly committed to racing the rally on its “Hino 500 Series” trucks with smaller engines and a lean team.

The Hino 500 series is the company’s main workhorse with its global availability and reputation. The truck is also the most popular in the brand’s medium to heavy-duty truck line.

This commitment was based on the team’s motto “Softness overcomes hardness” which means precision and delicate balance of power and traction, versus brute force and horsepower.  Spoken in Japanese as “Ju yoku go wo seisu” is a phrase that is often used in jujitsu and other martial arts which explains how the soft and flexible will overcome the powerful and hard, and by extension how the feeble will overcome the strong. The philosophy extends to the handpicked team of the best and brightest has been working to strengthen their teamwork through the spirit of “valuing harmony.” 

For the past few years, the team has been carefully studying the work of its rivals, and making thorough tunings to its racing trucks based on the uniquely Japanese version of “production craftsmanship.” The team also sent all of its members on a month-long training camp to further strengthen the team’s overall capabilities.

As a result, driver Teruhito Sugawara (44 years of age) finished this year’s rally in 8th overall among the 50 entrants in the trucks category, making this the team’s first top 10 finish in five years since its 9th place finish in 2012. He also won his 8th straight championship in the Under 10-liter Class. 

The big story though was with 75-year old driver Yoshimasa Sugawara who finished 29th overall and 2nd in the Under 10-liter Class, giving the father and son duo their fourth straight 1-2 victory in the class since 2014.

By continuing to take part in the world’s top level race, Hino aims to share the excitement of racing with customers and motor sport fans around the world, and build on the spirit of challenge and technological capabilities honed through this experience to deliver products and services that benefit our customers around the world.

Present at the conference all the drivers, as well as navigators and team mechanics. 

The team members looked back on their 13 days of grueling racing in a talk show format, describing the conditions under which they competed and carried out their servicing work in the high altitudes of Bolivia. 

As in previous years, the conference was attended by numerous Hino employees and representatives from sponsors, who listened intently to firsthand experiences from the Dakar Rally that went far beyond what photos could convey.

“When we entered the Dakar Rally for the first time in 1991, we had a very simplistic game plan. Our aim would be to see how things went in the first year, finish the rally in the second year, and win in the third year. But we were able to finish in the very first year,” said Hino Motors Chairman of the Board Masakazu Ichikawa as he closed the conference. 

“We have finished every year since then, and we now have an unbroken streak of 26 finishes. I truly feel that this owes to the heartfelt support that we receive from all of you. We entered the Dakar Rally based on our conviction that companies must have a culture, and I feel now this culture has developed into one where we dare to take on truly daunting challenges, and as such, it has gained much greater depth. We are committed to continuing to race in the Dakar Rally in a way that is both down to earth and substantial.”
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